Hello Dr Oakes. I saw a video about why Muhammad was far more peaceful than Moses. The man claimed that Christian’s don’t read the Quran and Hadith everyday in context from Muslim scholars, so we have no right to say Muhammad was violent or to quote the violent verses without historical context. But he said that it was an undeniable fact that Moses and Joshua were shown to be violent in the Torah. There isn’t a historical context behind the verses like the Hadith in a chronological order. The books of Numbers or Kings are different in this way. [Author’s note: I am not sure what the questioner means by these statement, but it is true that the Qur’an and parts of Hadith are not in chronological order and, sometimes this makes their historical context unclear. But as you will see below, the conclusion about Muhammad is clear]  He also said every time Muhammad was violent, it was self defense.  The video was kind of long. But the time stamps where he talks about this is 23:30-29:18 here.  Is it true to say that Christian’s have no right to speak with confidence that Muhammad is violent when 99 percent of Muslims say he wasn’t, and they study it more than we do? So they’d be more aware of the violent verses and what they actually mean? And to deny otherwise is a conspiracy theory?


First of all, I will concede to charges by Muslims that both Moses and Joshua engaged in warfare.  They did this at the direct command of God, as can be seen in Numbers 31:1 and Joshua 6:2-5.  Whether this makes them “violent” men is debatable.  Here these Muslims are using unnecessarily negative rhetoric, but I will concede that the leaders of God’s people, including Moses, Joshua and David, did take part in sanctioned warfare.  There is no use in a Christian denying that, for the situation of God’s people, the Jews, war was sanctioned in particular situations, which was defending the Promised Land that was given to them by God.  They were not to go on aggressive wars to create an empire or outside the Promised Land  (as Muhammad and his followers did, as you will see below) but they were allowed by God to take the Promised Land and to hold it.  We can concede this point.
But then these Muslim apologists claim that Muhammad was not a “violent” man. They make the blatantly false claim that his warfare was only self-defense.  No one who knows the biography of Muhammad can defend this blatantly false claim. Muhammad went on several raids of other caravans, which is well-documented.  He also attacked and conquered Mecca from his military base in Medina.  From there, he oversaw the conquering of all of Western Arabia, and oversaw offensive warfare in Palestine.  It is the most blatant historical revisionism to claim that Muhammad did not take part in offensive, “violent” warfare.  In fact, within one generation of his death, his followers conquered vast swaths of territory, taking all of Palestine, Mesopotamia and Egypt. There are entire sections of Hadith devoted to instructions for offensive warfare in the name of Allah.  To claim that Muhammad and his immediate successors did not engage in violence is really quite absurd.
Now, perhaps the Muslim can claim that such “violent” warfare was in the name of Allah.  Perhaps they can claim that, like Moses, Joshua and David, Muhammad was authorized to oversee and command troops.  If Muslims will make this claim, then we can have a useful conversation, but if they want to claim that Muhammad did not engage in warfare, or that all he ever did is defend his own position, this is a simply and clear lie.  How can we respond to such clear lies?  All one  needs to do is read any biography of Muhammad, even by his supporters, and you will find that he was a soldier, that he led men into battle, and that many of those battles were not defensive ones.  You cannot conquer the city of Mecca by warfare without offensive battle, and there are so many other examples.
For example, here is a sample from a biography of Muhammad from the Encyclopedia Britannica, in which the information comes from Muslim sources:

In 628 Muhammad makes the bold move of setting out to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca. The Meccans are determined to prevent the Muslims from entering the city, and Muhammad halts at Al-Ḥudaybiyyah, on the edge of the sacred territory of Mecca. A treaty is concluded between the two parties: hostilities are to cease, and the Muslims are given permission to make the pilgrimage to Mecca in 629. Two months later Muhammad leads his forces against the Jewish oasis of Khaybar, north of Medina. After a siege, it submits, but the Jews are allowed to remain on condition of sending half of their date harvest to Medina. The following year, Muhammad and his followers perform the pilgrimage as stipulated by the treaty of Al-Ḥudaybiyyah. Subsequently, however, an attack by Meccan allies upon allies of Muhammad leads to the latter’s denunciation of the treaty with the Meccans. In 630 he marches a substantial army on Mecca. The town submits, and Muhammad declares an amnesty.

After his return to Medina, Muhammad receives deputations from various Arabian tribes who declare their allegiance to the Muslim polity. Still in 630, Muhammad embarks on a campaign to the Syrian border and reaches Tabūk, where he secures the submission of various towns. Muhammad personally leads the pilgrimage to Mecca in 632, the so-called Farewell Pilgrimage, the precedent for all future Muslim pilgrimages. He dies in June 632 in Medina. Since no arrangement for his succession has been made, his death provokes a major dispute over the future leadership of the community he has founded.

It is an historical fact that Muhammad was a “violent” man according to the definition this person is using.  There is no doubt of this, and anyone who says differently is either ignorant of the facts or is being dishonest.  Muhammad also ordered the massacre of more than seven hundred Jews in Medina.  This is an established historical fact.  Was this justified?  That we can discuss, but the fact is that he ordered these deaths.

This brings us to the real question that is behind this whole debate.  Please pay attention here.  The real comparison is not between Muhammad and Moses or David.  It is the debate between Muhammad and Jesus.  We believe that Jesus is the Messiah.  We believe that he is God-in-the-flesh.  It is Jesus that Muhammad ought to be compared to, not Moses or Joshua.  That Jesus was a man of peace, and that he was in fact a pacifist is about as well-known as any fact in history.  Jesus told us that it is God’s desire that we love our enemy.  Jesus is the king of peace.  Muhammad would never be called a king of peace, that is for sure!!!  he did not ask his followers to love their enemies!  Muhammad commanded his troops to kill his enemies.  But then, so did David, as David was authorized for this by God.  The real comparison to consider is Muhammad vs. Jesus.  Here the distinction is so clear that Muslims are very uncomfortable, as they ought to be.  Therefore, they throw up the smoke screen of comparison to Moses, and tell the blatant lie that Muhammad was not a man of warfare, which he clearly was.  Do not be deceived by this person’s obfuscations and outright deceit.

And let me add one more thing.  I have read the entire Qur’an and parts of the Hadith.  These statements are supported and proven from the Muslim scriptures.  This person claims that those who do not read the Qur’an and Hadith do not have a right to speak on these topics.  Well, I have read these documents, and they support what I am saying.  Besides, the writing of Muslim historians will confirm what I am saying.

John Oakes

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